Monday, May 2, 2011

Patent busting

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was founded in 1990 - long before "the Internet" was something most people had heard about - to defend "digital freedoms". They've done a lot of good in these last 21 years.

One of their efforts is the EFF Patent Busting Project: "Tired of bogus software patents? So are we! To combat these annoying and often dangerous legal weapons, EFF has launched the Patent Busting Project to take down some of worst offenders."

They have a "top ten most wanted" poster on their site, demonstrating "crimes against the public domain, willful ignorance of prior art, egregious display of obviousness". There are some interesting items, showing the impact the EFF has had:

  • A patent for streaming audio and video over the Internet (now invalid) 5,132,992
  • A system and method to record a live performance (concert) and recording them to media (CD) within minutes of the concert ending (now busted) 6,614,729
  • A patent for making telephone calls over the Internet (re-examined) 6,243,373
  • A method to play (card) games over the Internet (re-examined) 6,264,560
  • A patent for hosting and assigning domain names - such as (now busted) 6,687,746
  • A patent to store URLs in a bar code, that might be printed in an ad (narrowed) 6,199,048
  • A patent for taking and scoring tests over the Internet (re-examined) 6,513,042
  • A patent to emulate a handheld game console using software 6,672,963
  • A software method to parse customer emails - for example, to route them to a Helpdesk (invalid) 6,411,947
  • A system for combining different music files together, then playing them over the Internet (narrowed) 5,886,274

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